The Studio Behind 2022's Best Sci-Fi Movie Shines a Light Through Hollywood's Crisis

The coolest place for pushing the cinematic envelope is now proving a strike misconception wrong.

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Hollywood has ground to a halt as actors and writers strike for better wages and protections against AI, but there’s one big exception to productions completely being shut down: SAG-AFTRA waivers, which allow completely independent studios to continue production.

One beloved production company has secured two of these — and could be an optimistic model for the future.

The SAG-AFTRA strike has halted production on most projects as studios refuse to pay workers what they’re worth.

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According to Deadline, multiple TV series and films have been granted SAG-AFTRA waivers, most of them small-scale indie movies or crowdfunded passion projects like biblical series The Chosen. But two of these projects — entitled Mother Mary and Death of a Unicorne — are actually quite high-profile, qualifying for a waiver because they’re produced by prestigious indie company A24.

Per Deadline, Mother Mary, a “pop music epic” from The Green Knight’s David Lowery and starring Anne Hathaway and Michaela Coel, and Death of a Unicorne, a movie starring Paul Rudd and Jenna Ortega as a father and daughter who run over a unicorn, will be able to continue production by signing an interim agreement. That means that these productions will have to follow the terms proposed by the union. Those terms include fair pay, adequate residuals, freedom to work during hiatuses, and improved healthcare.

A24, both an indie film production and distribution company, is the studio behind movies like Uncut Gems, Hereditary, and, most notably, Best Picture winner Everything Everywhere All at Once. It’s completely independent, but plays in the big leagues against the huge studios under the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, whose draconian measures were the impetus of the ongoing Hollywood strikes.

David Lowery will be able to resume production on his upcoming movie Mother Mary despite the ongoing strikes.


The Writers’ Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild are both on strike for fair treatment from the studios and streamers. The WGA, which has been on strike since May 2, is fighting against the abuse of mini-rooms, which limit writing jobs to fewer writers for less time, as well as pay that allows writers to make a living wage. SAG-AFTRA has been on strike since July 13 and is fighting for higher pay, pay on top of residuals, pay commensurate with streaming success, and updates to a decades-old healthcare plan.

Both unions are fighting for protections against AI technology, a fight that’s only become more fierce when the studios proposed offering a half-day’s pay to scan a background actor and use their image in perpetuity with no consent.

But with A24’s two high-profile productions going strong, it appears that the situation in Hollywood isn’t as dire as it appeared at the beginning of the strike. Fans can get excited about two new star-studded A24 projects that they can watch knowing the people behind them were treated fairly according to the union. But also, these productions prove that the “unreasonable” requests made by the union aren’t unreasonable at all.

A24 is not getting by on a technicality — the studio is not only not a part of the AMPTP, but “talent loves them,” according to Mandy writer Aaron Stewart-Ahn. The studio respects creative vision, has a strong marketing presence, and can even distribute their own releases. A24 may not only just be a film distributor, but a model example for the studios.

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